Butchers are asking for protection from the French government
Stories about attacks by protesters on independent butcher shops have become more prevalent. Last month, a British butcher faced an international backlash just for reopening his business after it was vandalized. Now, NPR reports that French butchers remain concerned after seeking government protection from vegan activists.
France has seen more and more incidents of butcher shops being vandalized with fake blood or graffiti, the work of “hardline vegans,” as NPR calls them. In an extreme case, this past March, a militant vegan gunman even killed a butcher and a policeman after taking hostages in a French grocery store.
All of these incidents led Jean Francois Guihard—president of the French Confederation of Butchery, Butchers, and Delicatessen—to pen a letter last month to France’s Interior Minister requesting help for the country’s 18,000 small butchers. “In France your butcher is someone you go to like your doctor. It's personal,” Guilhard said. “And the heart of any French village or town is the baker, the butcher and the café. If we don't have these small businesses, the social fabric will be gone. Amazon is nice, but it isn't everything.”
The problem is that, unlike going after a large corporation, small butcher shops are easy targets with results that can be more clearly identifiable. But at the same time, attacking small, often artisan butchers selling responsibly-sourced and traceable meat can actually be counterproductive. “That's why I buy my meat only from the butcher and never at the supermarket,” one French customer, who ate meat but supported raising awareness for animal wellbeing, told NPR. “The mass industrial production is the problem. Butchers have totally different products and producers—a whole different system.”
Brigitte Gothiere, part of L214, a French vegan association, agreed that the vast majority of vegans want to take a sensible approach to the issue. “We don't attack butchers, we carry out investigations by putting hidden cameras in slaughterhouses and documenting things like baby chicks being ground up and other cruelties,” she said. “We try to show the reality of how animals live and die while being raised, transported and slaughtered.”
Meanwhile, the French government has apparently yet to reply to the butcher confederation’s plea. In the interim, we can only hope that those who believe in treating animals ethically will act the same way when dealing with humans.